Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Week 5 Takeaways

Week five is closed out, and we head into the 6th week of the college football season, hat as strange as it seems, we are just about at the halfway point to the season in 2014. With most teams heading into the meat of conference play, our weekly Pass/Fail report will now be replaced by a look at our takeaways from each conference as the season progresses. Here is our first "Takeaways" look for the 2014 season!

American Athletic
Thus far, the huge surprise here has to be the Temple Owls, who sit at the top of the conference standings. Matt Ruhle has the Owls headed in the right direction, but as conference play opens up in earnest, can the Owls keep heading in the right direction? USF and Tulsa are the only other teams to record conference wins this early, but are both horrible overall, providing no real challenge to the conference crown.
East Carolina and Cincinnati look strong, but have not started conference play as of yet. with big wins over Virginia Tech and North Carolina, ECU looks to be the strongest team in the league, and should be considered the favorite moving forward. Cincinnati opened strong, then struggled against Miami (Ohio), before eventually getting hammered by Ohio State.
Memphis could be a team that could surprise some, and may make a bowl game this season if they can navigate wins against the weaker clubs in conference play.
SMU, Tulane, and U Conn are horrible. Purely awful this season, while UCF appears to be in full rebuild mode.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Curtis Johnson (Tulane) appears to be in trouble, as Tulane is just not competitive right now, and has regressed from last season.
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool
With June Jones already gone at SMU, that leaves his replacement, Tom Mason, as the next guy to go.
Note of Interest
Major Applewhite has reportedly already applied for the SMU opening. He will likely be joined by a parade of coaches before the season ends.

One thing is for certain...the entire Coastal Division is up for grabs still. Duke did themselves no favors by blowing a chance at a road win at Miami, but they could still remain alive in the race by rebounding this week. Offensively, Duke has to get it back together after struggling to score against a Miami team that had been giving up some big points.
Georgia Tech, Pitt, and Virginia are all in the drivers seat right now, but Miami and Duke are still in the game. The only two squads that are seemingly not in it to win it are Virginia Tech and North Carolina who have both severely underwhelmed.
The Atlantic Division is a one horse race at this point, and short of any upsets happening, Florida State will make it theirs once again, especially after surviving an upset attempt by NC State last weekend. FSU has already knocked off NC State and Clemson, and may only face a challenge from Louisville, but right now, that is doubtful.
Boston College bounced back from the USC win to fall late at home to Colorado State last weekend, which really kills BC's legitimacy.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech...It feels like it is time for him to go, but how hard will it be to get him to leave?
Larry Fedora, North Carolina...Has never lived up to expectations, and UNC has flailed during his watch.
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool

Big 12
It has become evident to me that the Big 12 has six teams that are serious threats outside of conference play, which leads me to believe that we could be heading towards a cannibalization of the league entering conference play.
Oklahoma and Baylor are still by far the kings of the conference, and should stay there heading into the final month of the season, but obviously, Oklahoma State and Kansas State are not willing to lay down and die for anyone now. They could play major spoiler roles heading into the conference season.
TCU is looking stronger this season, and the Frogs are priming to get into the upper half of the standings to stay. Gary Patterson may be one of  the three best coaches in the league. and TCU is going to make some moves now.
Texas is nowhere as bad as they can appear, and Charlie Strong may still yet get Texas t a bowl game this season, despite his many roster moves to get rid of dead weight players in the Texas program, which I fully support. Once Strong has the idiots out of Austin, UT will be back to winning conference titles, but that is a year or two away from happening. For now, a mid tier bowl birth is within reach.
West Virginia is another club that is far better than I thought they would be, but now they have to put it together in conference play, which is something that has plagued the Mountaineers lately.
Kansas is back to being the league doormat once again, and Charlie Weis is all done after just four games this season. Clint Bowen is in charge now, but see my note of interest below to find out what may happen in Lawrence.
Texas Tech and Iowa State are likely at the bottom of the conference to stay this season, and both coaches are feeling the heat right about now.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech...Is it time to consider that hiring him was a mistake?
Paul Rhoades, Iowa State...He beat Iowa this season, but is that enough?
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool
Charlie Weis is already a drowning victim, as we had predicted he would be in 2014. Replacing Weis may not be very difficult, and Clint Bowen will likely not be the guy. See below.
Note of Interest
Ed Orgeron all but confirmed that he is going for the job during the offseason. The former Ole Miss head man and USC interim coach talked with Jack Arute this week on Sirius radio and was very high on the Kansas job. He did lie a bit by saying he had not been contacted, a he was asked to coach Nicholls State for the remainder of the season, and refused. Orgeron may be just shy of a lock for this job, and it's a good job with the right guy in it.

Big Ten
It's been an up and down season for the old Big Ten conference, but last week was a bit of a bounce back look for the league overall.
The shocker in the east is Maryland, who is sitting on top of the standings early after hammering Indiana. Indiana complained that the Terps stole signals from the sidelines, but hey, anyone can do that. One must still play the game, and Maryland won by 22.
Penn State, who looked strong early, dropped an egg at home against a miserable Northwestern club, and now Penn State may be exposed for being severely overrated early on.
Michigan State still looks like the strongest team in the conference heading into conference play, and blasted Wyoming in a final warm up.
The news here is at Michigan, who lost at home to Minnesota for the first time since 1962, and the wheels came off of the wagon in every single way. Look below in the Dead Pool section for more on that. Michigan is a sinking ship.
Rutgers may be 4-1, but their only loss was in conference play, which may become a recurring theme.
As the season progresses, I realize now that nobody is going to run with Nebraska in the West. Iowa is not close as far as talent is concerned, but then again nobody is. Only Wisconsin, with their ever dangerous power run game, could be a threat moving forward.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Kevin Wilson, Indiana...Hoosier have not showed consistency during his tenure, and a losing streak could have him in major hot water.
Kyle Flood, Rutgers...Flood may be 4-1 this season, but conference play could crush the Knights.
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern...Win over Penn State was huge, but now they must build on it.
Tim Beckman, Illinois...May be 3-2, but losses were blowouts to Washington and Nebraska.
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool
Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon (AD), Michigan...This is a two for one pick here. UM is already shopping for ADs, as they contacted Warde Manual (U Conn) and Brad Bates (Boston College) to gauge their interest in the job. Hoke has been a disaster. Potential replacements include Jim Harbaugh (49ers), John Harbaugh (Ravens), Les Miles (LSU), and Greg Schiano (Bucs, Rutgers).

Conference USA
Middle Tennessee is hitting the gas at the right time, and comes off of a 41-28 win at Old Dominion to take over control of the East. Marshall has not played a conference game yet, but the showdown is coming soon. Look for FAU to have a role in spoiling the party for someone at this point, as the Owls are showing signs of life.
The West is still wide open, as nobody is better than .500 overall. Nobody in the division has stood out at all.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Ron Turner, FIU...Has come out of the Dead Pool for time being. Panthers may be improving a bit.
Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech...2-3 start with loss to Northwestern State has locals raging a bit.
David Bailiff, Rice...Owls are 1-3 out of the gate, and lost to Old Dominion.
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool

BYU and Notre Dame are quietly two of the best teams in the nation, but the Irish will obviously be taken a bit more seriously this season. Everett Goulston is having a huge resurgence on and off of the field, and is leading the Irish to another run at a title. BYU on the other hand, is playing as well as they have in years, and at 4-0 is a huge surprise.
Navy is surprising in a different kind of way, as nobody saw them at 2-3 out of the gate. They need a turnaround, and soon after falling to Western Kentucky.
Army is Army. After falling to Yale on the road, there isn't much more to say.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool

It's been a tough year for everyone's mid major darlings in 2014. The conference known for pushing power five schools to the brink has fallen a bit flat in that category, short of Bowling Green's win over Indiana. As it stands, few teams are major players in the MAC this season, with Bowling Green and Toledo leading their respective divisions.
Ohio and Buffalo could still challenge in the East, but have largely played flat football this fall. In the West, look for Northern Illinois to push Toledo, but Western Michigan may be the biggest dark horse going right now, with PJ Fleck getting the Broncos rolling early.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Dan Enos, Central Michigan...After a fast start by the Chippewas, including a win over Purdue.
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool
Paul Haynes, Kent State...0-4 start has undone everything Darrell Hazell had done before him.

Mountain West
The MWC is another largely struggling mid major conference in 2014, with little in the way of outside quality wins to boast this fall.
The West, outside of a resurgent Nevada team, is a train wreck. Fresno State has been just terrible, while San Jose State, Hawaii, and UNLV are completely sunk.
The Mountain Division is wide open, but Wyoming may have enough defense to hold on for the ride, although they cannot score. They have already beaten Air Force, who in turn beat Boise State, who in turn beat Colorado State. Look for CSU and Utah State to push Wyoming, and Boise State will still likely have something to say when it's all said and done.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Bob Davie, New Mexico...Davie had a shot to beat Fresno State on the road, and failed. Getting closer to the Dead Pool every week.
Troy Calhoun, Air Force...Pulls himself out of the Dead Pool with a win over Boise State.
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool
Norm Chow, Hawaii....I guarantee this is his last go with the Rainbows.
Bobby Hauck, UNLV...Not only will the Rebels not return to a bowl, they can't get within 3 scores of anyone. Total regression.

We finally got a complete game from UCLA at Arizona State last week, and they looked scary. The Bruins, when they are on, are the best team in the South by far, but challenges await in a visit from Utah this week, and Oregon the following week.
USC slopped their way to their second conference win in a 35-10 win over Oregon State that was largely a mess on both sides. If you ask me, Oregon State quit. Pure and simple.
Washington was exposed by Stanford's defense in a 20-13 loss, but Stanford's offense is still a mess.
Congrats to Mike Leach and Washington State for rallying to beat Utah on the road. Are the Cougars bouncing back?
Speaking of bouncing back, California's offense is carrying the Bears to a huge turn around from last fall, but that defense is just heinous.
Coaches on the Hot Seat:
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool

You have to love the terrible disaster that is the East this season. South Carolina is completely done for the season, and I agree with Lee Corso in that Steve Spurrier will never win a national title at South Carolina, even he coached for 400 years.
Who would think that Carolina would be done, and Missouri would be running the show...again.
Georgia could still be a player, but has to play big in big games, something that they have struggled with. It can't all fall on Todd Gurley's legs to carry this football team.
There are five undefeated football teams in the west. That is going to come to a halt this week, as Alabama takes on Ole Miss, and Auburn is on upset alert taking on LSU.
Mississippi State is the real deal right now, but almost let LSU out of the cage.
Arkansas had Texas A&M on the ropes, and let them get away in OT. The Hogs are better this season, but are still 0-2 in SEC play.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Will Muschamp, Florida...that 21 point loss to Alabama didn't make anyone warm and fuzzy.
Mark Richt, Georgia...Still has to win some big games. Hasn't really happened yet.
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool

Sun Belt
UL-Monroe barely hung on to beat Troy last weekend, but are now 2-0 in conference play and are tied at the top by none other than Georgia Southern. The Eagles could very well be undefeated this season but for some bad breaks against NC State and Georgia Tech.
There is a muddled up pack in the middle after the two leaders, but has anyone been more disappointing as a football team in the SBC than UL-Lafayette?
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Trent Miles, Georgia State...Panthers need some development, but aren't getting anywhere.
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool
Larry Blakeney, Troy...Loss to ULM drops Trojans to 0-5. This is a done deal.

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